8 misconceptions about the Bible

by Mark Driscoll

“How can you trust the Bible when it’s been translated so many times?” “Isn’t the Bible full of mistakes and contradictions?” Pastor Mark Driscoll debunks 8 common misconceptions about the Bible in this fourth installment of his blog series, which provides a guided tour of topics such as what is the Bible, where the Bible came from, and how to interpret the Bible.

Over the years I’ve come across many misconceptions about the Bible. Some of these are due to rampant biblical illiteracy, and others to simple misunderstandings about how the Bible was copied and transmitted over the years. Many misconceptions about the Bible can be cleared up simply by learning how to interpret the Bible, but some require a more detailed response. In this post I’ll briefly look at some common misconceptions.

1. “You can’t trust the Bible because it’s been translated so many times”

This misconception assumes that we don’t have an abundance of manuscript evidence in languages such as Greek and Hebrew supporting the Bible. As a result, it makes the added assumption that the Bible may have started out in some original ancient languages a long time ago, but has since been translated and re-translated over and over again into so many different languages that we can’t trust it anymore. This is simply not true. We have access to literally thousands of manuscripts and fragments that are used in translating the Bible, not a long chain of degraded translations.

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2. “The Bible is full of mistakes and contradictions”

This misconception is usually just thrown out without any supporting evidence. Always ask for a specific example when you encounter this misconception. But be prepared, because some people may have specifics or even several examples, and you’ll want to know how to respond. In reality, though, to say the Bible is full of mistakes and contradictions usually stems from a lack of understanding of principles of biblical interpretation. Many capable scholars have addressed questions about Bible difficulties.

3. “You can make the Bible say whatever you want it to say”

This only applies if one takes a relaxed view of Scripture, such as a relativistic attitude that rejects that the author had real intent and meaning. Also, if we treat the Bible fairly in our interpretation, following the basic principles of hermeneutics, then we can’t make it say what we want it to say. I once heard a seminary professor say that the Golden Rule of interpretation is, “Seek to interpret a text just as you would like others to interpret your words, whether written or spoken.”

4. “The Bible says…”

This misconception claims the Bible says something specific, when it really doesn’t. As an example, some will state that the Bible says, “God helps those who helps themselves.” Sorry, that was Ben Franklin, not the Bible. Some will claim the Bible supports the abuse of women, that it encourages slavery, or some other major allegation. There’s a long list of things people say the Bible supports when in reality it doesn’t…

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